The rising popularity of non-alcoholic beers

Oct 12, 2018

women drinking beer outside

It’s no secret that more and more consumers are choosing to go tee-total, and the great news is there’s a lot more choice of alcohol-free drinks to tempt every palate.  It used to be that if you weren’t drinking while going out, you would have the inevitable orange juice or cola at the bar and sparkling water with dinner. But now there are a plethora of drinks to suit every occasion, with lots of innovation to excite the non-drinker.

It has been a long time coming, but finally there are beers that either contain no, or very low alcohol and are a far cry from the bland and tasteless products offered even 10 years ago. As the Independent explains, “Whereas alcohol-free and low-alcohol beers are most commonly made by brewing a beer as normal and then extracting as much of the alcohol as possible, (a process which can adversely impact the taste) some brewers are now brewing alcohol-free beers to begin with, meaning that in theory, less flavour is stripped out.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Budweiser Prohibition Brew (@budweiserprohibitionbrew) on

There is now a good choice of alcohol-free beer in market led by well-known brands, e.g. Erdinger with its Weizen Alkoholfrei and Budweiser with Prohibition Brew. The story behind the Budweiser Prohibition Brew is in fact an interesting one, as they explain on their website:” In the 1920s, the production of alcoholic beverages was illegal in the USA. Most beer brands went out of business. But Budweiser aren’t ‘most beer brands’, and we never stopped brewing – we just evolved.

“Our Brewmasters drew on years of experience to craft an alcohol-free beer that tasted like Budweiser, while still playing nice with the law. It worked then, and we’re doing it again now. Although this time it’s by choice, because we think the world needs a great tasting alcohol-free beer.

Even brands without this legacy, however, are doing well from the shift in consumer attitudes and it is with some of the smaller craft producers and new entrants where things get really interesting. The Big Drop Brewing company is “the UK’s first brewing company dedicated exclusively to making only the finest <0.5% ABV beer”. It has a range from pale ale to Stout as well as limited editions, and although only 2 years old, is available in All Bar One and the Ivy Group.

Steve Dass, co-founder of London’s Nirvana Brewing explains in the Telegraph why low alcohol beers are appealing. “As we have seen with the spectacular growth of the craft brewing scene, a new breed of discerning consumers have emerged who appreciate quality, provenance and craftsmanship. Our aim is to help expand a category that has, for so long, suffered due to bland, thin options.” The Morning Advertiser reports that the low/no alcoholic beer sector is predicted to increase in value from almost £63m a year to over £300m in the next 10 years. It’s therefore no surprise that the smaller players want part of this market, and customers too welcome new brands who can bring exciting variety and originality to the market.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by BREWPUBLIC (@brewpublic) on

In fact, I can even see evidence of beer companies branching out and trying to tackle to non-alcoholic market with new, innovative products. Laguintas, a popular IPA brand owned by Keinken has recently announced their new non-alcoholic sparkling water called Hop Water. In a statement on their site they say: “Lagunitas Hop Water is a fresh take on an old tradition ... An IPA-inspired refreshment that's zero-alcohol, zero-carbohydrate, and zero-calorie, made using everything we know about hops. It's chock-full of Citra, Equinox, and Centennial hops, as well as some natural flavors and a pinch brewer's yeast to biotransform-ate the hops to just the right flavor. 

“What is biotransformation? Brewmonster Jeremy Marshall put it best: “Yeast biotransforms the existing hop terpenes into more desirable terpenes. You need yeast to liberate the hop flavors, and that’s the most important thing that we know from making IPAs, and we leveraged it in making Hop Water.”

In fact, I can even see evidence of beer companies branching out and trying to tackle to non-alcoholic market with new, innovative products. Laguintas, a popular IPA brand owned by Keinken has recently announced their new non-alcoholic sparkling water called Hop Water. In a statement on their site they say: “Lagunitas Hop Water is a fresh take on an old tradition ... An IPA-inspired refreshment that's zero-alcohol, zero-carbohydrate, and zero-calorie, made using everything we know about hops. It's chock-full of Citra, Equinox, and Centennial hops, as well as some natural flavors and a pinch brewer's yeast to biotransform-ate the hops to just the right flavor. 
“What is biotransformation? Brewmonster Jeremy Marshall put it best: “Yeast biotransforms the existing hop terpenes into more desirable terpenes. You need yeast to liberate the hop flavors, and that’s the most important thing that we know from making IPAs, and we leveraged it in making Hop Water.”

All of this innovation is something that can only excite me, and I continue to look forward to seeing how something as traditional as beer can forge its way in the emerging markets.

This article contains information published in a case study, “Abstaining In Style” written by the Kolibri team, that aims to inform people in the hospitality business of major trends which impact their customers. Visit https://kolibridrinks.co.uk/news to find out more and download the case studies.

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